Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Harry Praw - June 30, 1982

Being Taken to Labor Camp

People wouldn't believe what they said?

Nobody would believe it. There was no reason for to doubt, there was no reason to doubt that they would just pick up the Jews and kill them. So they took out my two brothers--I had two younger brothers. And I was twenty, one of my brothers was sixteen and one was eighteen. That was the last I've heard or seen them. A week later they came back and took the remaining brothers--the older--the twenties--the twenty year olds. So whatever they left and that day they had to assemble again in the market place. And the same thing, we going to work, they loaded us--they always loaded us on cattle cars, that was their best transportation. And that was the last I have seen of my parents. And they shipped us to a place near Krakow--a so-called labor camp. There was nothing there, no barracks. We had to build our own barracks, 1942.

Was it open?

And it was open, the first couple of weeks we even got paid for it--for the work.

Mm-hm. Where did you sleep then before the barracks were built?

They always had one barrack.

Oh, one.

We just had to build them gradually. They brought--the can't bring in more people 'til we had to build a bigger camp. But that particular, that particular camp wasn't more than a few barracks, there weren't too many people there.


So, for about two or three months we worked mainly on bridges, construction, road building, we laid railroad tracks. We all of a sudden, without really knowing it, without any knowledge, we always became experienced. No matter what we always became experienced in any field whatever they told us to do.

Uh-huh. You learned that quickly.

Oh yeah. And the same thing, in that particular place there wasn't too much--it was an open camp without any guards so we had to form our own police. It was the Jewish police.

The Kapo?

No, the Jewish police.

Oh, mm-hm.

So they had--they had to have a manager--camp manager so we had the whole, whole, whole community in--within the camp, a Jewish manager and Jewish police. And we went out to work, the camp was located in the middle of farmland, otherwise in, in the countryside. So, around lunchtime we could always run into a farmer and grab a bowl of soup from a farmer or kept uh, they gave us a piece of bread. They knew that we were already prisoners.

They did, but they were sympatheic?

Oh yeah, most of them, most of them. Of course, there wasn't too much of a big deal at that time because there was no, like what they--no Gestapo at that time and none of that was present so...

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